Marketers need to be more selective and creative when pitching ideas.
PR professionals have always tried to make their pitches more enticing by linking them to major news events. However, new data reveals this once-solid strategy is becoming increasingly ineffective in 2023.
Audio: Listen to this article.
A recent in-depth analysis by Propel examined over 1 million PR pitches sent to journalists in the first half of 2023. It tracked response rates across pitches mentioning major happenings in categories like tech, business, pop culture, climate, and more.
Why do some pitches fail?
Pitches connected to some of the biggest tech narratives of early 2023 – topics like AI, Metaverse, and X (formerly Twitter) drama – received dismal engagement from journalists, with response rates around 1-2%. Why did these huge headlines fail to capture press interest when pitched? The issue lies in volume and repetition.
With massive stories like the rise of generative AI, virtually every PR pro tied their client's message to it. Even if the connection was flimsy, they banked on journalists taking the bait due to the buzz surrounding the topic. This deluge of the same AI narratives understandably led journalists to tune them out.
However, the analysis found more niche tech subjects, if pitched cleverly, could grab press attention. Pitches related to quantum computing boasted response rates above 18%, indicating journalists are starved for insightful takes on emerging tech.
What topics are (and aren’t) resonating on social media?
Social media platforms followed a similar trajectory. Despite their nonstop prevalence in the news, pitches involving giants like X, Instagram, and TikTok flopped. But those focused on the booming influencer marketing space fared incredibly well, with over 27% engagement.
World events and politics also presented a challenging landscape for PR pitches. Trump and Biden mentions both fell flat, each eliciting fewer than 1% of responses. These topics are simply too polarized and overexposed to resonate.
On the global front, while pitches related to “war” captured press interest, those mentioning “peace” languished – further indication that headlines focused on strife and conflict garnered more attention.
For economic uncertainty and volatility, tech layoffs and inflation pitches proved more compelling than upbeat growth stories. And in pop culture, while the Oscars and other major events were pitched ceaselessly, unique ceremonies saw better pickup.
PR angles that still resonate in 2023
The common thread is clear: With major dominating narratives, even across different industries, PR pitches piggybacking on them are easily drowned out. Simply mentioning these prevalent headlines is no longer enough.
However, the analysis unearthed some story types that can still gain strong journalistic interest when pitched:
Funding RoundsSeries B and C funding secured response rates over 13%, though early-stage rounds saw less pickup.
InfluencersA whopping 27% of pitches to influencer content creators got responses, making this a hot target demographic.
Climate DisastersCompared to general “climate change” pitches, stories focused on severe weather like snowstorms and fires
better-captured press intrigue.
Renewable EnergyWind and solar power hooks garnered journalist attention much more than fossil fuel topics.
While tying PR pitches to current events is still advised, marketers need to be far more selective and creative in 2023. Blanket mentions of dominant headlines won’t provide enough novelty or differentiation to register with journalists. The strategy requires meticulous angles and hooks that present familiar narratives to the press in entirely new lights.
Contact us today to learn how to optimize your PR strategy for 2023 and ensure your pitches stand out from the noise.
Photo by Pixabay